McAlister’s Deli has long been one of the more successful fast-casual foodservice franchises in Florida, with restaurants throughout thirteen of the state’s most populous markets. Not represented among those markets is the state’s biggest city, Jacksonville, an omission McAlister’s is currently seeking to remedy.
Paul Macaluso, president of McAlister’s Deli, sees Jacksonville as a natural next step for the award-winning, fast-casual restaurant brand.
“We like to grow out from our existing markets in concentric circles,” said Macaluso. “That way, we benefit from maximum brand awareness when we introduce stores to the new market. We’ve found so much success throughout Florida, and now we want to leverage that momentum and make a huge entrance in Jacksonville.”
In many ways, Jacksonville is the ideal market for the McAlister’s concept, which pairs a wide variety of sandwiches, soups, and salads with fast-casual service. Jacksonville boasts a large working middle-class population, which is McAlister’s prime demographic. Office and service workers who are looking for reliable, affordable lunch options on a daily basis are likely to make a habit out of McAlister’s Deli. And compared to similarly sized cities, Jacksonville residents are far more likely to drive to and from work, which means that diners are less interested in the get-in-get-out service popular in more densely populated, walking cities.
Jacksonville is also more diverse than the average American city, which gives McAlister’s all-inclusive comfort-food concept an edge over more specialized brands in the segment.
“We do sandwiches, baked potatoes, soups, sides, and amazing sweet tea,” Macaluso said. “It’s real, hand-crafted food; everyone loves this stuff.”
As McAlister’s prepares to continue expanding in Florida, the corporate team is focused on making sure all of the brand’s new restaurants are well positioned for success.
“On the corporate level, everything that we do is designed to set our franchisees up for success,” said Macaluso. “Between guiding them through the grand opening process and making ourselves accessible to lend a helping hand whenever needed, our top priority is ensuring that the McAlister’s model is working in every market it calls home. By helping our franchisees reach their full potential, whether they’re single or multi-unit operators, we’re helping position the McAlister’s brand for continued growth in the long run.”
Macaluso sees franchisee support as an essential element of McAlister’s Deli’s growth strategy.
“Our franchisees are ultimately the driving force behind our successful expansion initiatives,” said Macaluso. “That’s why our strong support system is such an integral part of our franchise system—we want our local owners to receive the best possible advantages in today’s ever-evolving restaurant industry.”
Macaluso is optimistic that McAlister’s will find capable and qualified owners for the brand’s Jacksonville restaurants.
“Ultimately we’re just looking for smart, ambitious people who have a passion for the brand,” said Macaluso. “It’s not like you need a special degree. Our processes have been fine-tuned and are easily applied. I know we’re going to find a lot of great new owners, and I’m excited to work with them.”